CSBS Partnering with the City of Champaign to Reduce Community Violence
What if an open-source digital platform can create a healthier, safer, more equitable, and sustainable place to live? The Smart & Connected Communities project is a collaborative effort among the City of Champaign, a diverse representation of community stakeholders, and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers from the Rokwire Research Group, Center for Social & Behavioral Science, and Action Research and Collaboration to reduce crime such as gun violence in Champaign-Urbana.
How The Smart & Connected Communities Project Will Tackle Community Concerns
Together, community members in Champaign-Urbana and a team of researchers will focus on developing digital tools that focus on crime reduction and community collaboration. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Smart & Connected Communities program which hopes to create the scientific and engineering foundations for smart cities and communities and help enhance communities’ quality of life. The researchers will work with the City of Champaign and community stakeholders to identify the challenges they are facing and propose solutions that could address everyday obstacles. The project will use the Rokwire platform to create useful and integrated tools for the Champaign-Urbana community that would reduce crime and violence. The project will be a collaboration that prioritizes the community members’ needs and addresses Champaign-Urbana’s most urgent concerns. Community members will steer the project’s direction and directly contribute to its success.
Communicating with the Community and Reimagining Community Responses to Violence
We are working with community members to learn about their experiences and needs using a collaborative approach to address critical issues such as gun violence. Researchers from the University of Illinois will gather information and feedback from the City of Champaign and its neighborhood associations in order to measure the program’s success. The community members will participate by brainstorming potential mechanisms and providing feedback to surveys. By focusing on the local community and working closely with the City of Champaign, we believe the violence reduction functions will be better designed and more effective.
Collaborating and Scaling for Broader Impact
Our ongoing partnership with the City of Champaign presents endless possibilities for making this community safer. The City of Champaign recently established an internal task force charged with building a community engagement platform to collect and provide information to its residents efficiently. The task force enhances communication with its 47 registered neighborhood associations so that constant information exchanges occur. The City of Champaign is deeply dedicated to reducing violent crime in the community, the rate of which is more than double the national average. The Rokwire Smart City Platform presents opportunities that extend far beyond interpersonal violence and could be used to address other community concerns in the areas of mental health, physical health, economic inequality, and transportation. Working closely with community stakeholders would allow researchers to create targeted interventions and civic communication that can lead to the adaptation of smart communities across the country.
Share your ideas on how to make the community safer!
We would love to hear from community members about how to make the community safer and what changes they would like to see. We’d be interested in asking questions such as: What are your individual experiences and needs for making Champaign-Urbana safer? In what ways could the community better support itself in addressing crime and violence? In what ways could technology integrate into your daily life to make Champaign-Urbana safer? If you’d like to share your experiences or concerns, please email CSBScience@illinois.edu to talk with one of our staff members.